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Stuntman and wrangler from Vanderbilt gets set on fire

Sept. 24, 2011 at 4:24 a.m.
Updated Sept. 25, 2011 at 4:25 a.m.

Calan Welder, 19, was on fire this summer as a stuntman in the outdoor, musical "Texas." He wore three layers of clothes soaked in ice water and a poncho to prevent burning.

CANYON - Calan Welder had a sizzling summer. And not just because he was in Texas - he was on fire.

"It was so hot and unbearable," he said. "The temperature would get up to 120 degrees."

Welder spent almost four months as a stuntman and wrangler for the outdoor musical drama, "Texas." He worked at a theater in Palo Duro Canyon.

In one of the scenes, the 19-year-old Vanderbilt native played the part of a burning man.

To prevent injury, Welder said timing was everything. He also wore three layers of clothes soaked in ice water and a poncho.

"Texas" was written by Paul Green and shows pioneers from the 1800s battling change in the Texas Panhandle.

The production also has historic representation with Colonel Goodnight, Chief Quanah Parker, and other settlers who make it through the drought and railroad conflict.

There's also an added dimension of love. The Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation has put on this show for the past 46 years.

Some people said Welder was perfect for the part.

"Calan fits well into the ultimate image of Texas," said Toni Gerber.

The office manager for the foundation also said he was a professional, talented wrangler who brought enthusiasm and excitement to the production.

The stuntman said being on stage gave him a chance to play with his imagination.

"I love being on stage, because I can be someone completely different."

Each role in the production presented its own risks. He could have caught fire working with pyrotechnics and the horses were unpredictable.

Welder said he was never injured, but had a close call once. His horse jerked him to the side, but his feet stayed in the saddle.

"I was lucky. I was the only one who didn't take a spill," he said.

As a Christian, Welder said he knew angels were watching over him.

The Industrial High School graduate said this was his first trip away from home. He survived on ramen noodles and takeout.

Welder's family began ranching in 1832. He was really into it until junior high, but he went back to his roots and hasn't looked back.

He said the experience gave him the best of both worlds.

"Two of my favorite things have come together - drama and Texas."



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